What is a Website?

This page contains information about the many features and services that can be associated with a website. You can scroll down to read all of the information or you can click on the links below to jump directly to a specific topic.


A Website is simply a collection of individual web "pages" that are linked together so the user can navigate between the individual pages.

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The individual pages within a website can contain many types of information including text as your are reading now, pictures, company logos, forms, tables, animations, and links to other web pages. Each page can look completely different from all other pages in a website but website designers usually apply a common "theme" so that all pages within a website have a similar look and feel.

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What you are looking at now is an individual page that is one of the many pages that make up the www.cartercrafts.com  website. You got here by clicking a "link" on another page. You will notice that there are a series of links within this page and at the bottom of this page that will take you other pages within this website. Links are usually highlighted with and different color and underlined.

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Web Server or Host
A website must be "hosted" on a specialized computer known as a "Server". The server makes the website available to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of concurrent users throughout the "World Wide Web", also known as the "Internet". When you view a website, data is transferred from the server to your computer so you can view it. Everything you see on your computer is simply bits of "data" assembled to produce the text and graphics that you see.

The amount of data that is transferred to and from the server is commonly known as "bandwidth". To accommodate the huge amounts of data bandwidth required to transfer web pages to multiple users at the same time, web servers are usually located in a "data center" that has multiple special high capacity phone lines connected to it. Data centers also offer many other advantages such as redundant power supplies, backup servers, waterless fire protection systems, climate control, 24 hour monitoring and security.

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Domain Names
Every website on the Internet must have a unique name, known as the "Domain Name". Domain names must be purchased and registered with a central registrar that manages the distribution of domain names.

For example, the official domain name for this website is www.cartercrafts.com . Only one website can have that exact domain name although other websites could use similar names or the same name with a different "extension". An extension is the ".com" part of the name. Other extensions that could be used include ".org", ".net", ".us", ".tv", ".gov" and many others.

For example; the domain names www.cartercrafts.com and www.cartercrafts.org may both take you to the same website or they may take you to completely different websites.

Although a domain name can link to only one website, in some cases, a website may have more than one domain names linked to it. I know this sounds confusing but even if a website has multiple names linked to it, each individual domain name is still linked to only one website even though there may also be other domain names linked to the same website.

For example; www.carterknives.com and www.cartercrafts.com will both take you to this website as I have purchased and registered both domain names and linked them to the same website.

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Website Additions

In addition to the basic website, other features and services can be linked to the website including those listed below:

An email account is an individual and unique address that is used to send messages across the Internet. There are numerous sources for free limited email accounts through providers such as Hotmail, and Yahoo. If you obtain one of these free email accounts your email address will contain the name of the provider such as yourname@hotmail.com . However, if you have a registered domain name, you can get email accounts attached to that name such as mike@cartercrafts.com . In fact, you can have numerous email accounts attached to the same domain name. Most website hosts provide email accounts either included in the hosting package or for an additional fee.

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A forum is an online message board where topics can be posted and people can participate in discussions by posting messages and replies to the topics. Forums can be divided into different areas with topics of related interests grouped together. Forums can be set up to be free and open to anyone or they can be restricted to only registered members.

Although a forum can allow members to chat with each other live with text messages, most operate by allowing people to post messages that can be read by anyone, anytime. Most forums also allow forum members to send private messages to other forum members. Web logs, commonly known as "Blogs" operate much in the same way as forums.

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Shopping Carts and Online Stores
A website may contain, or entirely consist of, an online store where you can offer merchandise for sale and allow people to order and purchase your goods online. Just putting an online catalog of your items on a website for people to view your merchandise is relatively simple. Being able to accept and process payments for items online is a considerably more complicated matter.

If you want people to be able to purchase and directly pay for items in your store, you will also need a "shopping cart" attached to it.  In addition, you will need one or more methods of processing online payments such as credit card processing or PayPal payment processing. Payment processing must be contracted through third party processors who will charge an additional fee for their services. Payment processors usually charge a per-transaction fee plus a percentage of the total sale. If you are processing orders, you will also need to purchase a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to make sure the transactions are secure (See next item).

You will also need to provide shipping for your products and quote shipping and handling prices. This can be accomplished a number of different ways including flat rate, table rates based on the number of products ordered or the amount of the sale, or calculated rates based on the size and weight of the order and the delivery destination. It is possible to link your shopping cart to the United States Postal Service so shipping costs for various USPS services can be calculated automatically based on weight and zip codes.

You can visit Carter Crafts Online Store by clicking HERE.

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Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificates
If you are processing orders online, your customers will need to send you personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers in order for you to fill the order. Obviously, everybody wants this information to be kept private and secure which is a major concern when sending such information over the Internet.

With a SSL certificate, the information is encrypted (scrambled) so that it cannot be read in the event that it is intercepted or stolen over the Internet. Only you would have the "key" that will unscramble the information so you can read it. In addition, the certificate assures the customer that your website is really owned and operated by the person(s) claiming to be the owners.

SSL certificates are sold by third party issuers and must be renewed annually for an additional fee. SSL issuers go to great lengths to assure the authenticity of a website by requiring legal documentation from the registered owner of the associated domain name. Once a website has been certified and a SSL certificate has been issued and installed on the website, the website is then "secure" and users will see a "padlock" symbol assuring them that their transactions are secure.

In addition to the cost of the certificate, which can range from $25 to several hundred dollars depending on the type of SSL certificate, there is usually a installation fee to attach it to your website.

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Traffic Management
If you have a website you will probably want people to visit your site. You may also want to track how many people have visited your site and perhaps even analyze how they found your website.

How do you attract visitors to your website among the millions of websites available on the Internet? There is no sure-fire way to guarantee people will visit your website but there are things that can be done to help people be aware that it is there and maybe get them to visit. One of the best things you can do is to have your website listed in the many "search engines" and directories that people use to search the Internet for websites that are relevant to information or services that they are seeking. Well known search engines include www.google.com , www.yahoo.com and www.altavista.com . Your website must be registered with each search engine or directory individually.

Even listing your website with a search engine does not guarantee visitors to your website. In most cases, when a Internet user enters a search word or phrase in a search engine they are presented with thousands of websites that may contain the information or services they seek. Even if your website provides those services, it may be buried far down the list of results. There are tricks that can be employed in the building of your website that may help it rise to the top of the list.

Besides driving traffic to your website, you may want to track how many visitors your website has had, where they came from,  or how they found you. With appropriate software programs installed, you can even tell how much time each visitor spent on your website and what pages they viewed while visiting. This information is commonly referred to as "Web Statistics" or "Web Stats" and it can be very useful in analyzing your website traffic and perhaps refining it to attract more visitors or visitors interested in certain information or services.

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